Sports

After 38 years of walking the sidelines, football Hall of Fame welcomes Heglar

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Bill Heglar has seen just about everything you can see on a football field. That’s just what happens when you have coached high school football for 38 years in Washington.

And his nearly four-decade tenure at eight different high schools across the state earned Heglar the biggest individual coaching honor Saturday when he was inducted into the Washington Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held at Bellevue’s DoubleTree Inn at the annual coaches’ association clinic. Heglar, the current coach and athletic director at Decatur High School, was presented for induction by his son, Jeff Heglar.

“Honest to goodness, it’s the most humbling thing that has happened to me,” Heglar said. “I’m pretty awed by the honor.”

Heglar’s teams haven’t always won. In fact, the coach’s career record is well under .500 at 151-195 record. The win total is 46th on the all-time list of Washington high school coaches, according to a list compiled last year by David Maley and Dave Tuengel. But Heglar has always been one of the most innovative coaches around, especially on the offensive side of the ball. He has also been willing to take over programs that don’t have strong traditions of winning, as he did at Decatur. Heglar led the Gators to their first postseason appearance in the history of the school in 2003.

“I don’t think I’ve ever repeated school colors,” Heglar said. “I’ve had a lot of shades of blue. But never the same shade.”

Although not a lot of research has been done on the topic, it’s believed that Heglar is the only football coach in the history of Washington high schools to lead teams in every classification — B-8 through 4A.

Fresh out of Eastern Washington State College in 1967, Heglar’s first coaching job came at LaCrosse High School in Whitman County where the Tigercats played in the B-8 classification.

“Boy, I’ll tell you what, that game is wide open,” Heglar said of eight-man football. “You kind of learn not to get too upset when you are down 24-0 at halftime. You can score points in a hurry.”

Heglar eventually moved on to another pair of small schools in Eastern Washington — Rosalia and Newport — before making the trek across the Cascade Mountains for the first time when he took over Sumner in 1983. Heglar coached at Sumner for seven years before moving to Bellevue’s Interlake High School.

But he is probably best known around the Puget Sound area for building up the Bellevue High School football program before the Wolverines won four-straight Class 3A state championships from 2001-04 under Butch Goncharoff.

Heglar brought the vaunted Wing-T running offense to Bellevue before leaving for Seattle Prep in 2000, where he coached for two seasons. Goncharoff was an assistant on Heglar’s staff.

“Football is such a team game,” he said. “This individual honor makes you think about all the people in your life that have helped you along the way like my athletic directors, players, assistant coaches and families. It takes all of them together to get this recognition.”

“He is your typical, old-fashioned coach,” said Greg Flynn, the former Decatur athletic director who hired Heglar three years ago. “He kept this honor under his hat and nobody would have known.”

John Giannandrea, Steve Gervais and Bob Nielsen were also inducted into the Washington State Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame Saturday. Giannandrea recently concluded a 40-year career with 24 seasons at Medical Lake (Spokane) and Gervais is coming of a state-championship season at Skyline (Issaquah) and has 225 career wins. Nielsen amassed 181 wins in 26 years at Royal High School.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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